Toyota Invests in WiTricity's Wireless Charging Technology, Probably Seeking to Embed It

WiTricity, one of the first promoters of wireless chargers, have recently signed a deal with Toyota. The Japanese car maker is now investing in the U.S.-based technology and will probably embed the 3.3 kilowatt-hour charger within future plug-in electric and hybrid models (such as the well-known Prius).

WiTricity’s technology relies on magnetic resonance (not electromagnetic induction) to send power wirelessly with, they say, a 90 percent efficiency.

Nevertheless, compared to a cable, whose efficiency is close to unity, there’s still some 10% of the energy lost in the process. Given the fact that energy is still not as expensive as gasoline, some could find the luxury of not having to plug in their fancy EV manually pretty acceptable.

“Carmakers are introducing the first generation of vehicles plugged into the grid now. In a couple of years, they will be introducing the second generation of vehicles, and tha’s our target,” said David Schatz, director of business development and marketing at WiTricity.

On the other side, the company is thinking if embedding the wireless technology directly into the car wouldn’t be a wiser marketing option, rather than selling it as a separate product, which few would buy. Of course, nobody knows how the market will react to this option, since the EV market is so new nobody knows merely nothing about how it really works in reality.

Founded in 2007 as a MIT spinoff, WiTricity has so far attracted $15.5 million in funding from various other companies and currently produces technologies for all kinds of industries, including military. Now, after Toyota and, in September 2010, Delphi Automotive, invested in them, results are surely expected and will probably also get delivered.

Of course, just like in all of the industry, standardization is the mother of all good things for everyone. But until various technology owners and users will reach the conclusion that they’ll have to have a standard wireless charging option, the beauty of experimentation has its role, too. Who knows, maybe someday, someone will invent a more efficient wireless energy transfer method, and designers may already think about that and will make things more modular than they are now.

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